We’re all going on a summer holiday…
For many July and August mean summer holidays, overseas adventures and some much earned rest and relaxation! So, while you’re away (if you’re lucky enough to be) we thought we’d make a combined edition for July and August, packed full of Westlaw UK news, as well as all the information from the legal market that you need to know about.
In this edition we cover our latest enhancements which, subject to successful testing, go live on the 28 August 2013, including our new search filtering. We give a heads up on our soon to launch BETA testing for Westlaw UK’s quick search mobile web app, and let you know how you can get yourself involved. Our Insight homepage has had a slight change made to ‘watched topics’ and our Insight contributors have been busy again with 70 new articles launching since our last What’s New. As always our cases, legislation and annotations teams have been working hard and we’ve included all their updates as well.
We give you a books on-line update; with information on our four newest commentary titles launching imminently, as well as letting you know about what titles are coming soon. Our ‘What’s new in the law’ and ‘What’s new in the legal market’ sections are again loaded with news and information, keeping you in the know on what’s happening in the legal industry.
The Westlaw UK team
THE JULY/AUGUST EDITION
SEARCH FILTERING – WATCH OUR SEARCH ENHANCEMENTS VIDEO HERE
Throughout 2013 Westlaw UK has made a number of enhancements to our search functionality including suggested terms and relevancy ranking. The latest enhancement to Westlaw UK search is the introduction of filtering to search results.
Giving you a more intuitive way to search, the new search filtering enhancement will let you refine results, saving time and effort. Filtering is applied across all of Westlaw UK (excluding books and EU), offering content type specific search results with extended filtering options for:
HOMEPAGE: Including Content Type, Topic and Date
INSIGHT: Including Topic and Date
CASES: Including Topic, Date, Jurisdiction, Courts and Status
LEGISLATION: Including Topic, Date, Jurisdiction and Document type
JOURNALS: Including Topic, Date, Jurisdiction, Availability and Document type
CURRENT AWARENESS: Including Topic, Date, Jurisdiction and Document type
WHAT DOES IT DO?
Our new filtering features provide you with the capability to better interact with their search results.
It allows you to bypass the often over complicated search taxonomy (usually reserved for traditional information specialists), to quickly and easily refine search results and discover exactly what you’re looking for.
FEATURES & BENEFITS
- Filtering over whole results set (not limited to 4,000)
- Further enhances ease of searching Westlaw UK
- Detailed indexing allows filtering by topic, date, jurisdiction, content type, court and status
- Ability to filter across all possible results and not just the capped list for display
- Ability to Print, Download, E-mail and Folder from filtered results
- Ability to save the filtered results for alerting
- Ability to save the filtered results for RSS
- Ability to build links to the filtered results
SEARCH USER GUIDE
To bring you up to speed on how to make the most out of all our search functionality, including all our 2013 enhancements, we’ve created a Westlaw UK Search user guide, which can be viewed and downloaded here.
WE WANT YOU!
Early next month, Westlaw UK will be launching a BETA version of our brand new quick search mobile web app, with plans to launch it officially later this year.
The quick search mobile web app, has been created for quick searches and referencing out of the office, on the move and when you haven’t the time or availability of your desktop or laptop.
We are looking for willing participants, who would be interested in registering for the beta version to give the Westlaw UK quick search mobile web app a try and come back to us with any feedback and suggestions you might have.
If this sounds of interest to you, please click the link below to register and you will be contacted by one of our Platform Technology team members in the coming weeks.
Note: Participants would require either a smart phone or tablet device (either android or Apple or Blackberry).
RENAMING OF ‘WATCHED TOPICS’ TO ‘BOOKMARKS’
It’s been another busy month for Westlaw UK Insight. This month we are making a small change to your Insight home page. To make your research easier, we have renamed ‘Watched Topics’ to ‘Bookmarks’. Therefore when you bookmark a topic (by clicking the star in the top right hand corner of your screen), it with now appear on your Insight home page under the heading ‘Bookmarks’.
Our contributors have again been busy, with over 70 articles published since our last update in late June. Articles include:
- Applying for UK patents
- Appointment of liquidator
- Arbitration procedure
- Bad character
- Breach of trust
- Claims control and claims co-operation
- Commercial waste
- Company takeovers: regulation
- Consumer credit: unfair relationships
- Consumer Rights Directive
- Construction law
- Copyright: authorship
- Copyright: classification of works
- Corporate manslaughter: overview
- Costs: discontinuance
- Defamation: abuse of process
- Defamation: actionability
- Defamation: internet publications
- Defamation: slander
- Defamatory statements
- Employment discrimination: pregnancy and maternity
- Extradition: bars to extradition
- Fatal accidents
- Greenhouse gas emissions and climate change
- Health care
- Intelligence services: surveillance and interception
- Liquidation: malpractice
- Loss (insurance)
- Medical law: consent
- NHS: clinical commissioning groups
- NHS Property Services
- NHS trust insolvency
- Occupiers’ liability
- Passing off: misrepresentation
- Possession orders
- Public trustee
- Prison disorder
- Private prosecutions
- Product liability: energy appliances
- Real Estate Investment Trusts
- Rent review clauses
- Responsible publication: Reynolds privilege
- Right to silence
- Road rage
- Rylands v Fletcher
- Special Health Authorities
- Stamp duty
- Taxation of termination payments
- Tonnage Tax
- Trade mark infringement: evidence
- Trade mark infringement: threats
- Trespass to land
- Trust assets
- Trustees: appointment
- Trustees’ functions
- Trustees: removal
- Unfair commercial practices
- Urban regeneration: compulsory purchase
- Urban regeneration: local authorities’ functions
- VAT appeals
- VAT assessments
- Weights and Measures
- Witness protection: identity
- Youth sentences
REMOVAL OF THE SPRINGER JOURNALS
We regret to announce that since 19 August 2013, four journals published by Springer Publishing, previously accessible as part of the core Westlaw UK subscription were removed from the service and are no longer available in full-text format.
The four affected journals will continue to be featured in our Legal Journals Index.
Below is a list of the titles being removed in full-text from Westlaw UK and the coverage in the Legal Journals Index which will continue to be available.
CRIMINAL LAW FORUM
Full-text coverage being removed from Westlaw UK: From 1997
LJI coverage remaining on Westlaw UK: From 1997
EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF LAW AND ECONOMICS
Full-text coverage being removed from Westlaw UK: From 1997
LJI coverage remaining on Westlaw UK: From 1997
LAW AND PHILOSOPHY
Full-text coverage being removed from Westlaw UK: From 1997
LJI coverage remaining on Westlaw UK: From 1997
Full-text coverage being removed from Westlaw UK: From 1997
LJI coverage remaining on Westlaw UK: From 1995
NEW BOOKS & LOOSELEAFS
Next Wednesday (subject to successful testing), we will be launching three new book and looseleaf titles. You can read more about each of the new titles going live below. We’ve also included information on two titles coming soon.
NEW TITLES LAUNCHING NEXT WEEK (28 August 2013):
- Mitchell, Taylor and Talbot on Confiscation and the Proceeds of Crime – More Information
- Modern GATT Law – More Information
- Prescription and Limitation of Actions – More Information
- The Law of Agency in Scotland – More Information
- Vinter: Project Finance – More Information
- Dilapidations: The Modern Law and Practice – More Information
*Books and Looseleafs are available as add-ons to Westlaw UK. Speak to your Account Manager to discuss subscription options.
ANNOTATIONS FOR JULY & AUGUST
Below are the latest annotations since 1 July 2013. All were online within a week or two of receiving Royal Assent and include Scottish Acts, Northern Irish Acts and Supply & Appropriation Acts.
- Budget (No.2) Act (Northern Ireland) 2013
- Civil Service (Special Advisers) Act 2013
- Crofting (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 2013
- Finance Act 2013
- Forth Road Bridge Act 2013
- Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (Scotland) Act 2013
- Local Government (Democracy) (Wales) Act 2013
- Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013
- National Trust for Scotland (Governance etc.) Act 2013
- Post-16 Education (Scotland) Act 2013
- Scottish Independence Referendum (Franchise) Act 2013
- Supply & Appropriation (Main Estimates) Act 2013
We’d also like to let you know that following customer feedback, Westlaw UK Annotations have recently begun a program of adding links out to Guidance and Codes of Practice. As one valued customer informed us that these links would be “like gold dust” as Quasi-legislation can be very difficult to get hold of. Over 40 of the most highly used Acts now supply these links, and we are continuing to add more.
*Please note the Annotated Statutes service is available as an add-on to a current Westlaw UK subscription.
WHAT’S NEW IN THE LAW © 2013 Sweet & Maxwell
- Jewish teenager wins right not to work on Sabbath
An ultra-orthodox Jewish man who was refused Jobseeker’s Allowance because he said he would not work on the Sabbath has won a legal victory upholding his religious rights. The Social Entitlement Chamber ruled that the man, who had been to university, had good prospects of finding employment and that the restriction on when he could work did not mean he could not be classed as “actively seeking” employment.
- R. (on the application of Thompson) v Oxford City Council
When deciding whether to renew a sexual entertainment venue licence for a lap dancing club, a local authority was entitled to take into account both the present and future “character” of an area. Prospective licences required a prospective view, and the fact that an area was developing and in a continued state of change was a relevant consideration to the appropriateness of renewal.
- New rules to penalise homebuyers who pull out
Buyers who pull out of a house purchase after signing the contract could face large penalties following a Court of Session ruling. The Court found against Ron and Sarah Law, and Glenmorison Ltd, after the purchase of a home fell through in 2009. It means sellers can force buyers who attempt to pull out either to pay the full purchase price or a lesser penalty. It is most likely to impact “off plan” buyers who exchange contracts on property before it is completed.
- Life in jail for tax cheats/strong
Under sentencing guidelines published in June, people who cheat Revenue and Customs could face life imprisonment. The Sentencing Council’s proposals span the whole range of fraud offences and also include proposed longer jail terms for those targeting vulnerable people and multi-million-pound fines for corporations. For the first time the guidelines take account of the impact of fraud on victims.
- Classroom assistants win Supreme Court victory in equal pay fight with council
The Supreme Court has found in favour of 251 classroom assistants, support for learning assistants and nursery nurses employees in their equal pay action against Dumfries and Galloway Council. The issue in their appeal was whether they satisfied the threshold conditions set out under the Equal Pay Act 1970 to bring claims alleging that they are employed under less favourable terms and conditions than certain male employees of the council who do work of equal value.
- IP crime unit launched by City of London police
A new police unit to tackle IP crime and online piracy will be launched in September by the Intellectual Property Office.
The office will give £2.5m in funding over two years to the City of London Police, the national lead force for fraud, to allow it to establish and run the unit aid and enforce IP law.
The unit’s launch was announced by IP minister Lord Younger and City of London Police commissioner Adrian Leppard. It is one of the first units globally which will specifically target online piracy, counterfeit goods and other kinds of IP crime.
By 2015, global losses of $240bn are expected to be recorded by music, film and software companies as the practice of illegally downloading content rises.
Lord Younger said: “Intellectual property crime has long been a problem in the world of physical goods, but with the growing use of the internet, online intellectual property crime is now an increasing threat to our creative industries. These industries are worth more than £36bn a year and employ more than 1.5m people.”
- English revolution in House of Commons: Plan to give England’s MPs right to veto on issues not affecting Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland
English MPs are to be given the power to “veto” Westminster laws that do not relate to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, as part of sweeping constitutional reforms being drawn up by ministers.
Under proposals currently being finalised and expected to be announced in the autumn, English MPs would be able to reject legislation on devolved issues such as education, the NHS, transport and the environment, even if it had been passed by a majority of all MPs in the House of Commons.
The move would dramatically rebalance power in Parliament – and could result in a future Labour government being unable to pass significant legislation without the support of other parties.
- Axa calls for three-day limit on whiplash claims
Whiplash claims should be made within three days of the alleged accident and include evidence of physical injury if they are to succeed, insurance giant Axa said today.
The recommendations are part of a wishlist for the government to adopt on whiplash, copying models already in place in France and Sweden.
In its whiplash report published today at a roundtable co-hosted by former justice secretary Jack Straw, Axa said research suggests its reforms would significantly reduce the number of exaggerated or fraudulent claims.
The report recommends that whiplash injuries should not be recognised until doctors can see evidence of the injury, such as an MRI scan or x-ray. Axa says this system is already in place in France, where the average cost of an insurance premium is roughly two-thirds of that in the UK and whiplash injuries account for 3% of all bodily injury claims.
In Sweden, where Axa said insurance costs 46% less on average than in the UK, insurers generally reject cases where symptoms appear more than 72 hours after the accident.
A whiplash commission set up in 2002 created this rule of thumb to counteract the increasing number of claims and insurance costs came down as a result.
The Axa recommendations go further in asking for medical evidence than the Ministry of Justice has previously indicated. The government is expected to introduce a national accredited panel of experts to assess contested whiplash claims in the autumn.
- Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013
An Act to make provision for the marriage of same sex couples in England and Wales, about gender change by married persons and civil partners, about consular functions in relation to marriage, for the marriage of armed forces personnel overseas, for permitting marriages according to the usages of belief organisations to be solemnized on the authority of certificates of a superintendent registrar, for the review of civil partnership, for the review of survivor benefits under occupational pension schemes, and for connected purposes.
- Consultation on the Proposed Merging of the Scottish Tribunals Service and the Scottish Court Service
A Scottish Government consultation seeks comments on plans to merge the Scottish Tribunals Service and the Scottish Court Service. The joint administration would be independent of ministers and would provide support for both courts and tribunals led by a corporate body, chaired by the Lord President. Also seeks views on how to preserve the unique character of both tribunals and courts in a joint organisation.
- Bribery Act lying dormant, SFO admits
The Serious Fraud Office is investigating just two cases relating to the Bribery Act more than two years after the new law came into force, the Gazette has learned. A freedom of information request has revealed the SFO has yet to bring any prosecutions under the new legislation and has just three other matters under development that have yet to lead to a prosecution.
The organisation has nine other ongoing investigations relating to matters that pre-date the Bribery Act. City lawyers have warned that the SFO will struggle to enforce the act under current budget restraints.
- Penalty charge as High Court rules parking rises are unlawful
The High Court has ruled that Barnet Council acted unlawfully when it increased the cost of residential parking permits and visitor permits in a controlled parking zone. Mrs Justice Lang said that the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 “is not a fiscal measure and does not authorise the authority to use its powers to charge residents for parking in order to raise surplus revenue for other transport purposes”. The ruling is thought to be the first successful legal challenge to the level of parking fees set by a local authority.
- Knock-on costs of tribunal fees could outstrip savings
Costs resulting from the introduction of tribunal fees could outstrip the annual estimated savings of £10m, employment lawyers and unions have warned. Workers now taking on employers in tribunals will face fees of up to £1,200.
The Ministry of Justice was not able to provide an estimate for how many tribunal cases will be dropped as a result of the changes, but employment lawyers have suggested it could lead to a 25% fall in cases.
Elizabeth George, barrister in the employment team at Leigh Day, claimed the changes will cause chaos in the tribunals system due to a lack of preparation.
She said: ‘The introduction of fees provides a greater security for bad employers to dismiss unfairly because they rightly believe claimants will be deterred from challenging the unfairness through a tribunal claim.
Plans to waive fees for people on low incomes will affect just a small minority of individuals, she said.
Tom Kerr Williams, partner at DLA Piper, said the changes could have an adverse impact on employers. He predicted the number of claims received by the tribunal service would fall, but by contrast expected the cases that do go to tribunal will be ‘pursued more vigorously’ by claimants.
‘If individuals are forced to put their money where their mouth is at an early stage, they may be more likely to stand and fight regardless of the legal merit of their claims.
‘Employers will therefore need to be ready to deal seriously with those claims that do make it through,’ he said.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: ‘We estimate that this will affect 150,000 workers a year. This is not an aid to economic recovery but a means to keep working people frightened and insecure.’
The justice minister Helen Grant said: ‘It is not fair on the taxpayer to foot the entire £74m bill for people to escalate workplace disputes to a tribunal. We want people, where they can afford to do so, to pay a contribution.’
SELECTED NEW BILLS:
A Bill to require the Secretary of State to assume control of passenger rail franchises when they come up for renewal; and for connected purposes.
A Bill to reform the governance of football in England to make it more transparent and accountable; to ensure fair financial dealings between professional football clubs and their supporters; and for connected purposes.
A Bill to prohibit the use of zero hours employment contracts.
A Bill to make provision about the procedure for conducting investigations under the Local Government Act 1974 Pt.3 and to make provision for cases where an authority to which that Part applies takes a decision that affects the holding of an event for a reason relating to health or safety.
A Bill to require the Secretary of State to undertake a programme of research into a scheme designed to provide guaranteed employment for those aged 18 to 24 and those aged 25 and over who have been in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance for 1 year or for 2 years; to require the Secretary of State to report the results of the research to the House of Commons within six months of completion; and for connected purposes.
A Bill to require train companies to offer customers the cheapest available fare as a first option; and for connected purposes.
A Bill to introduce more freedom, flexibility and opportunity for those seeking employment in the public and private sectors; and for connected purposes.
A Bill to restrict the height, number, location and subsidies of wind turbines situated offshore within 20 miles of the coast.
A Bill to require that claims by employees alleging sexual impropriety be limited to cases where the alleged misconduct is contrary to the criminal law and has been reported to the police.
A Bill to require that asylum claims in the United Kingdom be lodged within three months of the claimant’s arrival in the United Kingdom; and that persons who have already entered the United Kingdom and wish to make an asylum claim must do so within three months of the passing of this Act.
A Bill to allow the Magistrates Court discretion to refer a third or subsequent offence for drink driving to the Crown Court for sentencing and to grant the Crown Court the jurisdiction to give a custodial sentence of up to two years.
NEWS AND INFORMATION FROM THE LEGAL MARKET
This month we’ve included all the news and information from the Large, Medium, Small, Bar, In-House, Public and Academic sectors.
WHAT’S NEW IN LARGE LAW © 2013 Sweet & Maxwell
- Law firms “losing market share” due to inefficient CRM
Law firms are falling short when it comes to the effective management of key client relationships, new research has found.
An in-depth survey of 220 professional services organisations, the bulk of which were law firms, has revealed that six out of seven firms are failing to get substantial and sustained benefits from their client relationship management programmes (CRM) despite the large investments they have been making in them.
The research, which was conducted by the Managing Partners’ Forum (MPF) and The Thriving Company, found that satisfaction levels in CRM are also down since the last survey was conducted in late 2011. The research highlights concerns that firms are failing to get the most out of their investment in CRM, often because of a lack of strong management.
Paul Lemon, executive director of the MPF, said: “In professional services it is often asked: ‘who owns the clients’? This year’s survey gives a very clear message: that a strategic, firm-wide approach must be employed to ensure that everyone in an organisation takes ownership of client relationships. Staff should not view them as the responsibility or preserve of only a few individuals, and senior managers must lead culture change on this matter, integrating CRM with overall business strategies to ensure that future investment is not wasted.”
CRM programmes facilitate the building and nurturing of client relationships, often making use of specialist, networked IT platforms. The idea is that this facilitates intelligence sharing about interactions with existing and potential clients, within teams and also at the firm-wide level. This in turn promotes integrated client service and supports a strategic approach to business development.
Increasingly firms are discovering that the quality of client relationships is their primary differentiator and that the reliance on old-fashioned networks of personal contacts is no longer sufficient.
As Robin Dicks, director of the Thriving Company, added: “Clients of professional firms increasingly expect firms to manage relationships effectively. They do it themselves for their own clients and notice when other firms are not making the same effort. Since the integration of firms’ knowledge and expertise is becoming more important as clients look to simplify their access to professional advice, we expect those fee-earners and firms who continue to accept ‘ring fencing’ of relationships to lose out, and lose market share.”
The report’s key findings include the fact that:
– 90 per cent of firms are planning to make an investment in their CRM programmes this year, and 82 per cent say they are likely to move to a new system or upgrade their current system within the next three years
– 43 per cent strongly believe that in their firms, CRM is regarded as the responsibility of business development and marketing staff and 41 per cent believe this to some extent
– 49 per cent of respondents strongly believe that although many staff in their organisations have been trained in CRM, they do not believe that it is relevant to them
– 31per cent of respondents strongly believe that fee earners ring fence their client relationships, and 52 per cent believe they do to some extent
– Only 20 per cent of staff without direct client contact are measured on the contribution they provide to client contact activities
– CRM strategy is well-integrated and aligned with the firm’s overall business objectives in only 35 per cent of firms (down by 7 per cent since 2011)
- Lupton Fawcett plans further growth with York merger
Yorkshire firm Lupton Fawcett Lee & Priestley and York’s Denison Till have announced they are in negotiations over a potential merger.
The merger would be the fourth bolt-on for Lupton Fawcett in as many years. In October last year the firm merged with fellow Yorkshire outfit Lee & Priestley, having previously acquired the commercial and private client business of Leeds firm Fox Hayes in 2009 and added Sheffield firm Hackett Windle later that year.
Other additions included a team from collapsed firm Ashton Morton Slack.
The firm has just announced turnover growth of 4.8 per cent for the 2012/13 financial year, bringing revenue to £13m from £12.4m in 2011/12. Lupton Fawcett now employs 220 people including 85 lawyers, of whom 43 are partners.
- BLP confirms it will axe 102 legal and secretarial staff in latest jobs cuts round
Berwin Leighton Paisner today concluded its redundancy consultation, confirming it will cut more than 100 jobs at the firm.
The consultation kicked off on 14 May. The firm said it had reached its ”target number” of redundancies, a total that amounts to 58 legal staff and 44 secretarial staff.
The firm declined to comment on which practice areas had seen lawyer jobs cut.
BLP has also cut a number of roles in the business services team. The firm did not say how many roles had been cut but said it was equivalent to 15 per cent of the department’s total salary costs.
It added that 84 per cent of employees involved had opted to take redundancy on a voluntary basis.
- Revenues move upward across UK top 50 despite gloomy predictions
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has posted the largest percentage change in turnover among the magic circle for the 2012/13 year, with the outlook for the top 50 firms remaining positive despite fears of a major slump across the profession.
While turnover appears to have stagnated at Linklaters, which claimed a 1 per cent increase to £1.195bn, and at Allen & Overy, which put turnover up 0.8 per cent to £1.19bn, Freshfields has seen revenues rise by 7.2 per cent to £1.221bn.
Meanwhile, Freshfields has also seen the biggest hike in average profit per equity partner, posting a 7.6 per cent jump from £1.229m last year to £1.398m in 2012/13. That said, Linklaters also saw PEP rise by 6.5 per cent from £1.243m to £1.261m. At A&O PEP stayed flat at £1.1m.
Those firms in the The Lawyer UK top 50 that have posted figures have largely seen an uptick with the exception of Field Fisher Waterhouse (FFW), where turnover dropped 2.5 per cent to £95m and PEP 2 per cent to £402,000.
Those with chunky revenue increases in the The Lawyer UK top 50 have achieved growth largely driven by mergers. Clyde & Co, for instance, saw revenues up 17.5 per cent from £287m to £336.6m as a result of it being the first full financial year since the 2011 merger with Barlow Lyde & Gilbert.
DWF, meanwhile, posted a whopping 84 per cent revenue hike to £188m from £102m thanks largely to its £3.5m rescue takeover of failing firm Cobbetts in a pre-pack deal in January.
- Profitability plummets at growing number of Top 200 UK firms
Average profit per equity partner (PEP) has fallen at nearly half of the UK200 firms to have provided figures for 2012/13 so far, The Lawyer research has revealed.
Of the 86 firms that have provided PEP figures for both the last financial year and 2011/12, 41 (48 per cent) have seen PEP decline. Almost a quarter of those, 10 firms, reported that PEP fell by more than 15 per cent.
The greatest decline, of 52.4 per cent, was at HowardKennedyFSI, when PEP is compared with that of legacy Howard Kennedy, prior to its January merger with Finers Stephens Innocent (FSI). A significant expansion of the equity partnership led to a drop in PEP from £269,000 at Howard Kennedy to £128,000 at the combined firm.
But the equity share has risen from just 23 per cent of the partnership at legacy Howard Kennedy, to 84 per cent of the partnership at HowardKennedyFSI.
Chief executive Mark Dembovsky said last week that the firm had made “a concerted push” to bring salaried partners into the equity in the name of integration.
Manches saw the next biggest drop in PEP, from £235,000 in 2011/12 to £135,000 last year – a 43 per cent decline.
Managing partner Melvin Pedro said: “Our financial figures for last year appear on the surface to be rather negative, but they demonstrate the investment that the management board and partners have made in steadying the firm in a post-recession market. The fall in PEP was expected and is a reflection of our investment in new people and infrastructure. We have also made some effective efficiencies throughout the firm.
“Overall, last year’s results were largely a reflection of losing a team from within our family department, a flat market for mid-size transactions, and the impact of the recession, causing many projects for clients to either be put on hold or to be postponed indefinitely.”
- Ireland’s A&L Goodbody adds third US office in San Francisco
A&L Goodbody has added to its presence in the US with the launch of a San Francisco office. The move follows the firm’s launch in Palo Alto 18 months ago, and gives A&L Goodbody its third office in the US. It has been present in New York for many years.
Partner John Whelan is relocating to San Francisco to head up the office, where he will lead a new international technology practice. The team will serve US clients which have or want to set up in Ireland, as well as Irish companies moving overseas to Silicon Valley.
Managing partner Julian Yarr said the opening came on the back of a successful launch in Palo Alto and the development of “significant relationships and clients” in Silicon Valley.
Yarr added that the San Francisco office would also broaden the firm’s West Coast offering into Los Angeles and north to Seattle.
- 60 lawyers to go at global giant
A US law firm with a significant presence in London has confirmed it is making 170 redundancies worldwide. Top 20 global firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges told staff in a mass email that 60 lawyers were being cut along with 110 support staff.
A spokesman for the firm declined to say how many people were directly affected in each office, but did confirm there will be ‘some impact’ in all regions. It is believed the cuts will predominantly affect practices in Houston and Boston.
In the all-staff email, executive partner Barry M. Wolf cited the depressed market for transaction activity as a key reason for the changes. Restructuring and litigation work relating to the 2008 financial crisis has also wound down in recent months.
Wolf said: ‘It appears that the market for premium legal services is continuing to shrink. Therefore, actions to enhance revenue alone will not be sufficient to position the firm as necessary for these new market conditions.’
Some partners may be asked to accept ‘meaningful compensation adjustments’ and Wold accepted that some partners would leave to pursue other opportunities.
He said the news was delivered through an email to inform all staff at the same time.
‘It is very painful from a human perspective, [but] the management committee believes these actions are essential now to enable our firm to continue to excel and retain its historic profitability in the new normal.’
Weil, Gotshal & Manges has 21 offices worldwide with around 1,200 lawyers.
- Freshfields and BLP confirm 80%-plus autumn trainee retention rates
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Berwin Leighton Paisner have announced their trainee retention rates for the second intake of 2013, with both firms keeping on more than 80% of qualifying lawyers. Freshfields is keeping on 81% of its autumn qualifiers, with the magic circle firm offering roles to 40 of its 48 newly-qualified (NQ) lawyers, with 39 accepting.
The magic circle firm also kept on 39 NQs in March when positions were offered to 40 of 46 qualifiers, equating to a retention rate of 85%. Meanwhile, BLP’s September retention rate is significantly higher than the 64% the firm posted this spring.
- Osborne Clarke imposes beefed up training regime for junior lawyers
Osborne Clarke (OC) is to impose a landmark top-up training regime on all its recently qualified lawyers, insisting they pass strict exams in specialist practice areas.
The move – which has evolved from a recently completed pilot programme – will see all the firm’s newly-qualified to three-year post-qualification associates required to sit an eight to 12-week enhanced training programme. Lawyers will be tested before starting the course and at its end, with a harsh 90 per cent pass rate set for the second stage.
Managers at the firm say lawyers failing the final exam will have to resit until they hit the pass mark.
The courses are to be run by BPP, the country’s second biggest law school. The Bristol-founded, London-based firm cut a deal with for the ground-breaking training scheme as part of its move last March from the University of Law to BPP for provision of legal practice course for trainees. According to the firm, BPP is providing the associate top-up training at no additional cost.
The new training regime will affect up to 150 Osborne Clarke lawyers, with the pilot scheme already having covered associates in real estate, employment, tax and pensions. Lawyers in the firm’s corporate department are expected to form the formalised scheme’s first intake this summer.
WHAT’S NEW IN SMALL AND MEDIUM LAW © 2013 Sweet & Maxwell
- City firm Rohrer closed by SRA
The Solicitors Regulation Authority has closed City firm Rohrer & Co following an intervention, citing ‘reason to suspect dishonesty’.
The SRA said today that Rohrer, based in Finsbury Square, London, had failed to comply with the SRA Principles and Code of Conduct under the Administration of Justice Act 1985.
Rohrer was formed in 2007 and previously traded under the names Bracewell Law and Legal Direct, according to Companies House records. The records say the firm is overdue in filing accounts due on 30 January.
According to its website, Rohrer & Co ‘is a full service law firm in London staffed by a team of commercially aware and highly qualified legal professionals’. It continues: ‘We’re not like a traditional law firm. Rather, we’re a team of lawyers and non-lawyers from various business backgrounds who bring an innovative and fresh approach to legal issues’.
- Swathe of personal injury firms reports reduced income since LASPO
Almost a third of personal injury law firms in the north-west have seen fee income drop due to the introduction of LASPO reforms on 1 April, new research has found.
More than 70% of respondents said that the regulatory and structural changes have had a negative impact on their businesses.
Of more than 300 managing partners asked by Liverpool firm O’Connors – which specialises in advising other law firms – just 15% believed the impact is likely to be positive.
A total of 41% said there had been a noticeable decrease in new business enquiries since the introduction of the referral fee ban and 29% said the same about their fee income.
An earlier survey conducted by O’Connors in February predicted ‘financial meltdown’ in the sector, with almost a fifth firms considering shutting up shop and many predicting huge cuts in their profitability as a result of the new RTA portal fees.
Although this survey of the same firms bears out many of those concerns, O’Connors partner Nigel Wallis said the picture was not quite as bleak as previously speculated.
Mr Wallis said: “The fear of the unknown is always worse than the reality. We’ve done a comprehensive survey of the market and found that there is less pessimism than there was before the costs reforms. Perhaps it is a little early following the reforms and that the reality has yet to bite.
“Anecdotally, firms that are coming to us looking at going into run-off, are packaging those cases for onwards sale to another firm. This trade in existing caseloads is a halfway house between firms completely shutting up shop and other firms buying up entire practices.”
The report suggests the SRA is clearly concerned about potential financial failures in the sector.
- Law Society sets out blueprint for “sustainable consolidation” of small crime firms
The “sustainable consolidation” of nearly 1,200 small criminal law firms could be driven by requiring them to have a minimum number of duty solicitors, the Law Society has proposed as its alternative to price competitive tendering.
It has also suggested that the government underwrite the run-off cover of criminal law firms to ease the exit of solicitors from the market.
The Lord Chancellor, Chris Grayling, yesterday agreed to look in more detail at the society’s plans and not to dispense with clients’ choice of solicitor.
The pair also acknowledged on the need for “managed market consolidation”. The government’s current proposals would reduce the 1,600 law firms that currently deliver criminal defence services to as few as 400.
- Challinors files notice to appoint administrators
Midlands firm Challinors has filed a notice to appoint administrators following a meeting between the partners on Monday.
Partner Fiona Debney chaired the Monday meeting in which she told partners that the purpose was to consider the “financial difficulties of the partnership and what action it could take”.
The notice, seen by The Lawyer, states: “In particular, the chairperson reported that the meeting was to consider whether it was appropriate to file note of intention to appoint administrators to the partnership with a view to the partnership entering insolvent administration.”
Challinors’ senior partner Paul Griffiths told The Lawyer that the firm is setting itself up for a sale.
He said: “It’s a good news rather than a bad news story as far as we’re concerned as we’re positioning ourselves for a sale. These steps have been taken to protect the position pending the sale.
“In the interim the business continues to trade normally and the interests of our clients and staff have been safeguarded.”
Law firms are falling short when it comes to the effective management of key client relationships, new research has found.
WHAT’S NEW IN IN-HOUSE LAW © 2013 Sweet & Maxwell
- Commercial nous as important as legal skills for in-house lawyers, research suggests
The role of in-house lawyers is expanding beyond its traditional focus on legal work to include an increased focus on business issues, new research has revealed.
The research, produced by legal resourcing consultancy FreshMinds Legal in partnership with the Global Leaders in Law forum, surveyed UK heads of legal and general counsel at FTSE350 and other similar companies.
The survey found that eighty-six per cent of GCs and heads of legal believed that within the next three years, the business skills of in-house lawyers would be as important to their role as their legal skills.
Participants cited a growing focus on the business strategy and management aspects of their role, reporting that 62 per cent of their average day was now focused on management and business strategy, while just 38 per cent is spent on legal work.
Legal fees plummet to £26m in quiet first half for public M&A
Legal fees on public M&A in the UK fell to just £26.1m in the first six months of 2013 after a relatively buoyant 2012, according to research by The Lawyer.
In total 18 takeover offers for publicly listed companies were made between January and the end of June, with fees on individual deals ranging from £21,000 to £6.85m.
This contrasts with the estimated £50.1m spent on lawyers for 15 deals in the last four months of 2012 alone, when the Glencore mining merger with Xstrata propped up the overall figures with £38.9m of fees
In-House Counsel Seeing Increase in Litigation
More than one-third of general counsel in a recent survey said the number of legal disputes their companies have been involved in increased during the last 12 months. And only 7 percent said they’d seen a decrease.
The “Litigation and Corporate Compliance Survey,” conducted by business consultants AlixPartners, is based on a survey of more than 100 general counsel at companies with annual revenues of $250 million or more, primarily in the United States.
Louis Dudney, managing director at AlixPartners, said in a statement, “General counsel must deal with not only the potential damage that litigation may inflict but also defending these lawsuits, which can be costly and detract from day-to-day activities.”
And with increased litigation comes higher legal costs reported by most companies in the AlixPartners survey. One in 10 companies said they were involved in a “bet-the-company” lawsuit in the past year.
The good news for in-house lawyers is that some 27 percent of companies said they are increasing the size of their legal departments to help deal with the disputes.
In other findings, the report said:
– A whopping 84 percent of corporate legal departments are trying several ways to lower legal costs, including keeping more work in-house, using alternative fee arrangements, and resorting to alternative dispute resolution
– Contract and intellectual property disputes were the most common types of legal actions
– Some 55 percent of respondents said alternative fee arrangements are important
– Many companies were considering enhanced compliance programs as well as better compliance tools to mitigate risks
– Some 25 percent of respondents have increased use of outside counsel, especially for mergers and acquisitions and internal investigations
Dudney concluded, “Litigation and the threats associated with commercial disputes remains a critical issue facing companies and their executives today . . . [and] can have far-reaching implications for companies and their long-term business objectives.”
WHAT’S NEW IN BAR © 2013 Sweet & Maxwell
- Proposals for radical overhaul of bar practising fee sparks fury
Top earning civil barristers are threatening revolt over plans to charge them a practising certificate fee (PCF) based on annual income.
The proposals have been fielded by the Bar Council as part of plans to aid sustainable funding of the public bar.
Under the plans barristers would need to declare their income to enable them to be charged accordingly. Currently barristers are charged according to their seniority, meaning that those who have practised longest are charged most.
Plans to change how the fee is structured has caused upset across the bar with many complaining that, in effect, the bodies are proposing a secondary level of income tax.
One barrister said: “I believe this to be unprecedented. More to the point, I am also concerned as to where this might lead, once the principle of an income-based PCF is introduced.
“Once the BSB, the Bar Council and the LSB [Legal Services Board] have established that they are able to tax incomes in order to fund their regulatory and other activities, there will be very little incentive on them to make much effort to control costs – as compared, for example, to increasing the rates.
“Given the recent seemingly uncontrolled growth of our regulatory structure, this is not an attractive prospect.”
Another added: “Funding cuts across the public bar have brought the profession to its knees in some parts, and the commercial bar does its bit to help. This is just another attempt by the Government for uncontrolled regulator growth, and barristers will end up paying for the whole thing.”
Some suggested, however, that the change is necessary for sustainable development of the bar.
“It’s a really tough time for the bar and I feel sorry that some don’t support the common cause,” one source said. “A lot of criminal barristers are really struggling and this is one way that the Bar Council can help.
“Should somebody earning £40,000 before expenses pay the same as somebody earning £500,000?”
Barristers were contacted about the plans at the end of June and a four-week consultation will close on 31 July. That too has drawn criticism as some suggest that the timing of the survey comes at one of the busiest periods for the bar as advocates prepare for the summer break.
The current PCF starts at £80 for juniors of under five years’ call, rising to £222 for those between five and seven years. Juniors of between eight and 12 years’ call are charged £417 a year, and senior juniors of over 13 years’ call £813. The fee for QCs is £1,202 a year. The PCF for employed barristers is a little lower.
The Bar Council refused to discuss details of the proposals ahead of the consultation closing. A spokesman said there was “mixed views on both sides” and that it was working hard to fund a balance.
- Matrix goes global with Geneva launch
Gray’s Inn set Matrix has set out plans for expansion overseas after launching its first international office in Geneva.
Matrix chief executive Lindsay Scott said the move marked the first stage of an international strategy aimed at consolidating the set’s offering overseas and will be launched officially under the new sister-brand Matrix International in the Autumn.
“Geneva is a good European base as we do a lot of work with the UN, a lot in Zurich and at the European Court of Arbitration from Sport,” she said.
“We do a lot of human rights, crime and sports work but we are not looking to specialise in one area, there is also a lot of commercial arbitration and we’re seeing more business human rights work in Geneva. We have two members based there at the moment but there is the opportunity to take other members and trainees as well” she added.
A number of sets are looking for growth in the international markets as an alternative revenue source. At least five sets have established bases in Singapore in response to the launch of Maxwell Chambers there.
WHAT’S NEW IN PUBLIC SECTOR/ACADEMIC LAW © 2013 Sweet & Maxwell
- Uni of Law’s Savage calls on SRA to focus on quality of legal practice courses
Regulators should flood legal practice course (LPC) providers with crack teams of monitors to boost teaching standards, says a leading academic amid fears that quality is slipping and students are being shortchanged.
The call from the head of the University of Law coincides with a riposte from the two biggest LPC providers to claims from the Law Society that as many as 3,000 course places should be shed to prevent a glut of graduates hunting in vain for training contracts.
Nigel Savage, the president of the University of Law, used publication earlier this week of the legal education and training review as a platform to call on the SRA to beef up its focus on LPC delivery.
“It’s all well and good focusing on outcomes,” he said referring to the SRA’s overriding strategy. “But what the SRA needs to do is have a greater focus on how those outcomes are delivered. They need to get back into law schools with greater quality assurance schemes to ensure students are getting the right quality of education to deliver those outcomes.”
- University of Law to close in York and open in Leeds
The University of Law is planning to launch a branch in Leeds and close in York, in a move that could double the number of course places the institution offers in the region.
Europe’s biggest law school intends to open in the centre of Leeds by September next year. The move will involve closing the university’s current branch in York, but ultimately the total student body will increase from 300 to around 600, with specific emphasis on boosting the number of undergraduate LLB places.
“We want to contribute to the continued growth and success of the thriving legal community in Leeds,’ said university president, Professor Nigel Savage. He described Leeds as having experienced a business “renaissance” in recent years and that moving into the city “would enable law firms to source high calibre law students as well as the highest quality legal training for the staff”.
The move is expected to cost the university some £1.25m, although officials anticipated there would be limited staff redundancies. Leeds is only slightly more than 25 miles from York and the university expects many existing staff will be willing to relocate.
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